Slowing Down the (Donor) Revolving Door, Part 1
Let's look at the general steps first before we go into proven tactics for donor retention.
- Accept that you have to have (at a minimum) two plans: One for first-time donors and one for multi-gift donors. You can't simply decide that you live in a one-size-fits-all world. First-time donors need a different kind of nurturing. You have to help them grow into your more robust communications.
- Donor retention is not a one-time effort or a one-medium program. Donors might not conform to your calendar, and they might not choose to respond to a particular communication method. You need to make multiple efforts to get them to continue giving and approach them from different directions.
- Even though it hurts, you have to figure out when to give up. Continuing to mail to a donor who clearly is no longer interested is a waste of your organization's money. Some attrition is a given. Death, moving away, changing financial circumstances, disinterest — any of these can cause a donor to stop giving. Your focus needs to be on what you can control — things like boring communication, lack of understanding of the need, failure to see how a gift brings about results and a feeling that I (the donor) am not truly appreciated.
So, now that we've established the basic steps, let's talk about how these translate into effective programs that maximize donor retention.